Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Luke DeCock of the News & Observer,
So now the playoffs await, only the opponent and the seeding uncertain. Two years of pent-up excitement and enthusiasm is ready to explode at the RBC Center and not just in the stands.
For the 10 holdovers from the 2006 championship team, the return to the playoffs has been a long time coming—far longer than any of them could have expected on June 19, 2006.
“With our talent level and our team in general, we should be in the playoffs,” said Hurricanes forward Eric Staal, who recorded his eighth career hat trick Tuesday. “We attained that goal. The last two years we didn’t, and that’s what made it so disappointing and difficult.”
No matter what happens now, whether the Hurricanes go out in the first round or make it to the finals for the third time in the past seven seasons, at least they’ll go down fighting, if they go down at all. It took them three years, but they’re finally going to defend their title.
from Lindsey Hall of the N.C. State University Technician,
If you’ve never been to a hockey game, here’s a word of advice – go. If you’ve carried that anti-hockey, “It’s a boring sport” sentiment around, just give the game a chance. We have a successful, winning team just down the road from campus. They just set a franchise record Saturday with 11 consecutive home wins and have won 8 games in a row.
A whiteboard in the hallway leading to the Canes bench dons the message “Good teams find a way to win.” This team is more than good, and they’ve certainly found a way to win. Good things are happening in the RBC Center.
The ever-growing fan base in North Carolina knows a little bit about Southern hospitality, and the hell of a time that’s called tailgating.
from Paul Branecky of CarolinaHurricanes.com,
There’s a very real chance the Canes can climb up to fourth place and play their first two playoff games at the RBC Center, but they would need a little help. Even if they win all three of their remaining games, they would need Philadelphia to lose one of their remaining four contests. In that scenario, the teams would be tied on points but Carolina would have the total wins tiebreaker.
Given the way the team is playing at in their own building, home ice should be something to strive for at this point, even if Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, who the Canes would be likely to play in that scenario, would represent two of the tougher potential match-ups.
“We’re trying to win as many games as we possibly can and stay on our roll,” said Coach Paul Maurice. “We want to do everything that we can to climb as high as we possibly can. Clearly we would like to have home ice advantage, but if that doesn’t happen we’re still charged with the same task to win in the first round.”
from Chip Alexander of Canes Now at the News & Observer,
Canes fans seem to appreciate Tuomo Ruutu and his sometimes rambunctious, often entertaining brand of hockey. When he controls the puck or smacks somebody into the boards at the RBC Center, there is the “R-UUUUU” rumble from the stands.
And guess what? Ruutu likes it here, too. A restricted free agent after the season, he made it clear this week that he hopes to stay with this team, in this city.
“I feel like it’s home here,” he said. “It was a big change coming from Chicago, but right away I felt like I came home.
“This season I realized it — that it’s a great place to live and to play, as well.”
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
Jim Rutherford has heard all the theories suggesting he rehired Paul Maurice three months ago because of their long-time friendship. The mere insinuation still irks him.
In a phone interview from Raleigh yesterday, the Carolina Hurricanes general manager shot down the popular notion that his relationship with Maurice played a role in the decision to have Maurice come in for a second stint as Canes’ coach.
“I would not have brought Paul back if I did not think it was the best move for the team at the time. Period,” Rutherford said. “There are other ways to help a friend.”
Rutherford said Maurice sacrificed a lot in order to take the job.
“People have missed the real story about this whole thing,” Rutherford said. “Paul left his wife and kids up in Toronto to come down here. He’s not making any more money by doing this. And, if it didn’t work out here, it likely would have not helped his career at all. It probably would have damaged it.”
from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,
While top contenders like Boston and Washington struggle down the stretch, the Hurricanes finally discovered that extra gear, setting themselves up to be a team no one really wants to face in the first round.
No one should compare this group to the one that won the Stanley Cup in 2006, at least not yet, but there’s reason to believe it could enjoy a productive spring. For one, Cam Ward’s been magnificent, starting 22 straight and putting up the best numbers of his career.
“He was always technically sound, but I really like the way he battles,” said an Eastern Conference scout. “You can see his lateral movement has improved . . . [and so has] his rebound control. He’s not looked on as one of the real elite goalies because there’s nothing spectacular about his game. But, you know, he’s won it all before. That tells you all you need to know about his ability to compete.”
more and other hockey notes…
The NHL waived the blackout of the Hurricanes/Panthers game tonight and allowed it to be shown on Center Ice.
The audio source is coming from the Panthers radio network and there are no graphics on the screen. No score, no time, no commercials popping up, just a screen of hockey and it is actually refreshing to see the game like this.
added 8:10pm, Ha, I just noticed David’s post. I guess I am old school and remember fiddling with the rabbit ears to get a clear picture. It just brings back some great memories for me.
from Chip Alexander of the News & Observer,
But while 20 years in hockey can take its toll, while this season has had its ups and downs, Brind’Amour says there will be a 21st, that he hasn’t given any thought to retirement.
“It’s not a question of whether I’m going to play again,” Brind’Amour said. “I know I still love the game, and I still think I can play. And that’s the key.”
For Brind’Amour, this season has been more trying and taxing than any of the 19 before it. There were times he appeared slower than usual on the ice, when he couldn’t quite make plays, lost key faceoffs, turned the puck over.
from A.J. Perez of USA TODAY,
Question: Before you were traded last summer, you spent the first six seasons of your career in Carolina. What was it like to spend time in a market that takes its hockey a little more seriously than Raleigh, N.C.?
Cole: It’s obviously different on a day-to-day basis. There’s a lot more media coverage. They tend to overanalyze things a little bit more than other markets. At the same, it was exciting. It keeps you focused on the details and you make sure you’re working hard up there because they’re pretty savvy and recognize when a player isn’t working hard every night.
from Mike Sundheim of CarolinaHurricanes.com,
A few weeks ago WTVD’s Kerith Burke contacted me with a unique idea for a fun little story. Essentially, she wanted to learn the ins and outs of fighting in hockey from Hurricanes defenseman Tim Gleason. After some negotiating with Gleason (“I don’t want to hit a girl”), we managed to bring him on board for what I’m sure will be a must-see feature when Burke puts it together to air.
I snapped some shots of the proceedings with my BlackBerry. I think you can tell that it ended up being a lot of fun, even when the reporter got a little overzealous with her left hook. Tim spoke to Kerith about everything from how a fight starts to proper positioning (Keep that chin down).
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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